well as lectures and seminars, small study groups are an important part of any
serious engagement with psychoanalysis. They can allow the detailed study of a
text, a theme or a research question, explored at a pace that is more drawn
out than conventional seminar work.
Lacan encouraged the formation of work groups known as ‘cartels’, usually
consisting of four members and an additional ‘plus one’, someone chosen by
the group as being particularly suitable for giving a direction to the work,
helping with problems and contributing with their supposed knowledge.
the plus one’s function would be bound up with transferential issues, but
Lacan thought that this could in fact prevent such issues from blocking the
work of the initial group itself. Many people find the ‘cartel’ style of
work fruitful, and CFAR members and trainees often form such groups. However,
other ways of working may be favoured, with no particular criteria as to the
number of participants or the way of organising the work. CFAR encourages all
such groups, and they can be an invaluable accompaniment to other areas of
psychoanalytic training. Participants in a group may wish to study a text in
detail, but also to go through and explore further ideas emerging from
seminars and lectures. The most important factor is the wish of the
participant to elaborate a question or some form of work.
offers study groups the facilities of its library, with the newly acquired PEP
archive, and also the possibility to co-ordinate with other interested
parties. If a trainee or member seeks to find colleagues interested in working
on a particular theme, they can contact Julia Carne, who has kindly
offered to facilitate the setting up of study groups.